CEA Survey: HDTV Rising

HDTV is a hot technology, as any home theater fan will attest. That enthusiasm is shared by as many as nine million households, likely to purchase high-definition television (HDTV) products over the next 18 months, according to a recent Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) survey, titled HDTV Consumer Awareness Update. An additional 30 million consumers may buy into HDTV within the next three years, the trade group asserts.

"With seven million DTV products sold-to-date representing a $12 billion consumer investment, it is not surprising to find in this survey that consumers have become attracted to high-definition television's crystal clear viewing, superior audio and widescreen format," said CEA president and CEO Gary Shapiro, speaking October 14 in Carlsbad, CA at a CEA Industry Forum conference session on HDTV consumer awareness, sponsored by CEA's DTV Subdivision.

"More than half of all survey respondents said they view the HDTV transition as a positive. This supports our projections that millions more consumers will purchase an HDTV in the near future," Shapiro noted, adding, "[however,] hurdles remain. The survey also revealed a degree of consumer confusion remains regarding the transition, the technology and HDTV reception requirements." Areas of confusion include "products needed to view HDTV." For example, 74% of the survey's 1000+ randomly selected consumers did not know they often need a set-top box to watch HDTV shows; 78% did not know they need an HDTV-enabled recorder to record them; 54% don't know that not every program is broadcast in HDTV.

Plug'n'play capability will definitely improve the market penetration of HDTV, the survey implies, since 54% of respondents also said that being able to plug their cable line directly into a high-definition TV would make them more likely to buy an HDTV set. The most compelling HD content includes movies (38% of respondents), sports (21%), and educational or information programming (14%).

"We've definitely made progress on the overall HDTV education front as demonstrated by the fact that 85% of consumers now recognize that HDTV offers 'crystal clear pictures,'" Shapiro explained. "Additionally, key terms such as digital TV, high-definition TV and HDTV have all caught on with at least three out of five consumers. This is a marked improvement from the study CEA conducted two years ago." Shapiro called on broadcasters to "step up and deliver compelling programs." The CEA survey was conducted by telephone in September.